Cannabis ingredient ‘can boost cancer patients’ appetites, sense of taste’By ANI
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
WASHINGTON - A new study has suggested that the active ingredient in cannabis can help cancer patients regain their appetites and sense of taste.
Loss of appetite is common among cancer patients, either because the cancer itself or its treatment affects the sense of taste and smell, leading to decreased enjoyment of food.
This, in turn, can lead to weight loss, anorexia, a worse quality of life and decreased survival; therefore, finding effective ways of helping patients to maintain a good diet and consume enough calories is an important aspect of their treatment.
Researchers in Canada ran a small pilot study from May 2006 to December 2008 in 21 adult patients with any advanced cancer (except brain cancer) who had been eating less as a result of their illness for two weeks or more.
The patients were randomly assigned to receive medication from a pharmacist in a double-blind manner, which meant that neither the patients nor the doctors knew which treatment they were receiving. Eleven patients received oral capsules containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis - and eight patients were assigned to the control group to receive placebo capsules.
“This is the first randomised controlled trial to show that THC makes food taste better and improves appetites for patients with advanced cancer, as well as helping them to sleep and to relax better. Our findings are important, as there is no accepted treatment for chemosensory alterations experienced by cancer patients. We are excited about the possibilities that THC could be used to improve patients’ enjoyment of food,” said Dr Wendy Wismer (PhD), associate professor at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada), who led the study.
The study has been published online in the cancer journal, Annals of Oncology. (ANI)